For the past couple of years, I have been involved in the "Behind The Big House" Tour in Holly Springs, MS, the birthplace of journalist and anti-lynching activist, my shero, Ida B. Wells.
Behind the Big House was developed to interpreting slavery, by private homeowners, who open slave houses on their property to the public for interpreters, such as myself, to educate tourists and students the story of the enslaved men, women and children who were kept and toiled in Holly Springs. The program was formed in 2012 by Chelius Carter and Jenifer Eggleston, who bought the Hugh Craft House. Built in 1851, Hugh Craft House is locally recognized as the first of the "big houses" during the town's initially affluence preceding the King Cotton era of the late 1850s.
Hugh Craft House had slave quarters with a detached kitchen. The 1860 Marshall County Slave Census shows nine enslaved people at the house.
There's also an exhibit of historic findings that were found from the Hugh Craft House and slave quarters.
The program is run through Preserve Marshall County and Holly Springs Inc., which gets its funding from the Mississippi Humanities Council, the Mississippi Development Authority, the Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area, and the Holly Springs Tourism and Recreation Bureau.
Due to the global pandemic, the 2020 Behind the Big House Program was canceled. I was looking forward to returning to Holly Springs. I want to share some of my photos from the past Behind the Big House programs.
For the past six years, Culinary Historian Michael W. Twitty, author of "The Cooking Gene," earning him the 2018 James Beard Award's Book of the Year, conducted antebellum cooking demonstrations.